At the end of September, the president traveled west, speaking in nine different states in less than aweek. The trip was meant to put a spotlight on natural resources and conservation efforts. But JFK also used it to sound out themes—such as education, national security, and world peace—for his run in 1964.
Campaigning in Texas
A month later, the president addressed Democratic gatherings in Boston and Philadelphia. Then, on November 12, he held the first important political planning session for theupcoming election year. At the meeting, JFK stressed the importance of winning Florida and Texas and talked about his plans to visit both states in the next two weeks. Mrs. Kennedy would accompany him on the swing through Texas, which would be her first extended public appearance since the loss of their baby, Patrick, in August. On November 21, the president and first lady departed on Air ForceOne for the two-day, five-city tour of Texas. President Kennedy was aware that a feud among party leaders in Texas could jeopardize his chances of carrying the state in 1964, and one of his aims for the trip was to bring Democrats together. He also knew that a relatively small but vocal group of extremists was contributing to the political tensions in Texas and would likely make its presencefelt—particularly in Dallas, where U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked a month earlier after making a speech there. Nonetheless, JFK seemed to relish the prospect of leaving Washington, getting out among the people and into the political fray. The first stop was San Antonio. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Governor John B. Connally, and Senator Ralph W.Yarborough led the welcoming party. They accompanied the president to Brooks Air Force Base for the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center. Continuing on to Houston, he addressed a Latin American citizens' organization and spoke at a testimonial dinner for Congressman Albert Thomas before ending the day in Fort Worth.
Morning in Forth Worth
A light rain was falling on Friday morning,November 22, but a crowd of several thousand stood in the parking lot outside the Texas Hotel where the Kennedys had spent the night. A platform was set up and the president, wearing no protection against the weather, came out to make some brief remarks. "There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth," he began, "and I appreciate your being here this morning. Mrs. Kennedy is organizing herself. It takeslonger, but, of course, she looks better than we do when she does it." He went on to talk about the nation's need for being "second to none" in defense and in space, for continued growth in the economy and "the willingness of citizens of the United States to assume the burdens of leadership."The warmth of the audience response was palpable as the president reached out to shake hands amidst a sea ofsmiling faces.On to Dallas
The presidential party left the hotel and went by motorcade to Carswell Air Force Base for the thirteen-minute flight to Dallas. Arriving at Love Field, President and Mrs. Kennedy disembarked and immediately walked toward a fence where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered, and they spent several minutes shaking hands.
The first lady received a bouquet of red roses,which she brought with her to the waiting limousine. Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, were already seated in the open convertible as the Kennedys entered and sat behind them. Since it was no longer raining, the plastic bubble top had been left off. Vice President and Mrs. Johnson occupied another car in the motorcade.
The procession left the airport and traveled along a ten-mile...